Posts Tagged ‘Ralph Waldo Emerson quote’

seasonsAdopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Are those flowers real?” friends ask when they see the pastel arrangement of out-of-season blooms on my table.

They aren’t. I bought the vase from a struggling-artist neighbor. The arrangement matched an oil painting created by my husband’s grandmother, although my subconscious made the decision, and let me know about it later. The fact that my black thumb couldn’t kill the blossoms, chose first.

The notion of forever warmth and sunshine—without effort—is appealing.

Sure, I realize utopia doesn’t exist, even in storybook land. Either the flying unicorn runs into some adventure or the bored preschooler falls asleep before his bedtime tale ends.

Now February, the elongated 28-day month, shows its power in Midwest America. This thin-blooded, needs-another-blanket individual, shivers. (My husband wears shorts until the thermometer dips below zero.)

I don’t sparkle in the sun the way snow on a bare tree does. The secret of nature is patience. No season, day, month, year, or life lasts forever. The darker moments carry disguised blessings. Without the difficult times in my life, I suspect I could take what I have for granted.

My purchased flowers are not real; it is okay to enjoy them, as artificial. In the meantime, I celebrate the fact that I have indoor heat, a warm coat, and opportunities to give to others. Opportunities I hope will warm the spirit of somebody else since mother nature’s timing, warm or cold, doesn’t budge.

Patience? I haven’t arrived on that perfect path yet. I still rely on artificial flowers as a reminder that their fresh counterparts will reappear. In their own time.

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We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

A friend is doing me a favor. My right hand has limited strength. A fractured metacarpal, age, and arthritis have limited my joint flexibility. Maneuvering a Lovenox injection into my belly prior to a diagnostic procedure would be like repairing eyeglass screws with vise grips. Who knows what I would stick with the needle? A thumb, wrist, or table top in a bizarre flip move—if I managed to remove the tricky cap.

Not only does J. arrive to help me at 7:30 in the morning on five consecutive days, she brings in the newspaper—and one morning she delivers a bag of apples. Farmers’ market fresh. The photo below is no longer accurate. I had two ripe red beauties for lunch today. Four have been baked, cinnamon sweet. Yum, maybe one more now.

A pre-school neighbor has an EpiPen dependent peanut allergy. Even so, for the experience, her parents took her door-to-door to greet neighbors on Halloween. I gave the little girl two dollars to spend on a treat for herself earlier Tuesday morning. However, the snacks we shared with visiting princesses and superheroes were not safe for her.

I offered her an apple. She was thrilled. J.’s gift expanded. Something as simple as a piece of fruit has made a child happy.

The apple has further symbolism for me. I belong to a spiritual group that is, yes, named after a fruit. Many years ago, before I joined, a young woman read a Scripture quote, “You are the apple of my eye.” Several members were pregnant, and round as apples. They laughed. The name stuck, long after the developing children were born, and became parents.

Now, we are grandparents. Ephemeral fruit, hoping to nurture life in a different way. Acceptance of ourselves and others, the ability to listen, change at any age, live and not simply exist—no matter how ugly the world may become.

Once fresh fruit rots it can become compost. It nourishes the soil. Rotten places inside me, any human, can disappear into the past…if I let go. And accept a humility that wasn’t in my agenda.

An apple seed. A thank you. A belief that grows through kindness, yet never calls itself perfect. Gratitude, renewed each day…

Thanks, J.


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What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The flower our beggar squirrel beheaded has replaced itself—threefold. I suspect what I thought was a sunflower gift is a weed, a wild sunflower. The plant’s leaves appear as worn as my septuagenarian skin. I photographed the whole plant anyway. The leaves are part of its reality. I wear flawed parts, too, like every other ephemeral life form.

I struggle to conquer uncertainty and borderless fears. My husband and I are traveling to Europe soon. On past trips, I have met people who have brightened my spirit. Nevertheless, the worry-pain I build-up feels like surgery without anesthesia.

I have the same sense of direction as an untethered balloon. Leave my familiar surroundings and I float wherever the wind takes me.

I imagine telling my husband, “Sweetie, I’m following you everywhere you go as we travel. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Um, even on my way to the men’s room?”

There may be a few problems with my plan. Maybe I’ll take everywhere out of my request. Superlatives such as everywhere, the greatest, the worst, and all, lose truth somewhere. Death is final, as far as I know, at least as far as my limited vision can see. The other side has only sent subtle hints, two or three pieces from a billion-piece more-than-I-can-fathom puzzle.

In the meantime, I study the weed in my front yard. Yellow. Green. Hints of brown. Sun. Shadow. And I wonder how one dull, broken stalk replaced one flower with three.

“Hey, girl!” I tell myself. “You’re taking a trip that frightens you because you know it’s worth the risk. Have a good time, and recognize the flowers among the weeds. Who knows what lies ahead?” I’m about to find out.

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What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Outdoor solar lights line the walkway to my brother-in-law’s house.  They were a birthday gift from my older son’s family—so recently that the lights have not yet absorbed enough sun to shine. Their brightness exists as a potential, a promise.

Yesterday, I sat and watched as my daughter-in-law skillfully assembled the lights. My younger son and oldest granddaughter planted them.

My right hand is bound in a brace; I’m clutching a tissue with the other. Even if I were uninjured and well, I would have a better chance of repairing a cracked raw egg than understanding line one of the directions. I am recovering from a respiratory infection—on an antibiotic long enough to see significant improvement. I have a doctor’s okay to travel, but I am not fully recovered.

Recovery, another form of beginning. Illness and setbacks cause me to forget the internal light that needs time in a different kind of light.

My husband and I laugh about life’s absurdities with our second son Steve and his fiancé, Cecelia. We joke about our childhoods, the inevitable roadblocks that affect everyone.

I see the light in my family’s eyes and recognize it as love.

The sky is late-May blue. The assembled outside lights are not yet needed.

What matters is what lies within.

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The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

We planted our blue spruce tree forty years ago. It was a gift from my husband’s uncle who owned a nursery. Some of the tree’s branches no longer thrive. However, I only recently learned that no blue spruce trees have survived in a neighborhood less than a thirty-minute drive east of ours. I had no idea how lucky our front yard has been. Of course, the spruce’s care has cost a small fortune. But human life isn’t always easy either. Life was never promised to be an effortless road.

Dakota gathers cones scattered on the ground and gives them a ride in his toy yellow dump truck.

“Can I take these home?” he asks.

“Sure. As long as your mom says it is okay.”

I have probably stepped on or over the huge seeds and never noticed them. Dakota studies the shape and size of each cone. He lets the super-wet ones dry in the sun. Dark and semi-disintegrated cones remain with the lighter, more attractive ones. I don’t ask our almost-five-year-old why he is so enamored by spruce cones. It doesn’t matter. He has discovered something of wonder, and has given me the opportunity to observe nature—and a beauty that has been waiting for me to notice it.

The top of the spruce holds more cones not yet dropped. I think about how many seeds there are and yet how few produce trees. How often do I expect every kind act to yield results—or at least a nod of recognition? I ask the question, but don’t expect an answer. I need an awareness, not a count.

Gratitude comes in layers, over time. I got a call last night, about a gift a very special person wants to give me. He was shopping with his sister. They were having difficulty making a decision. At the time I’d been tired, lost in my own fatigue—and I almost missed the moment to know how important this call was, a far larger gift than any wrapped present. The what of the purchase wasn’t important. To me. But it was to him. And that is where my awareness took hold. I don’t remember whether or not I said thank you. But I do recall ending the conversation with, “And I love you, too.”

Now, Dakota’s cones go for fast rides up and down the lawn. And I wonder what a four-year-old boy envisions as he leads the truck through imaginary adventures. The dandelions, tucked in his pocket, fall out. He calls them pretty weeds. I call them gifts for the bees.

“Play with me,” he says. I Do. However, I always remain on the edge of his world. And catch occasional glimpses of the newness he sees. With the kind of appreciation that lets growth begin. For both of us.




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Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Most of our six-hour drive home has been calm. I imagine being one with a flock of geese traveling in a V-pattern above the flat Midwestern farmland. Some sun, some gray clouds, but little traffic. Even an expected construction delay turns into a minor build-up no worse than what we experience in low-trafficked business districts.

Then we arrive at the bridge that borders our home state from the south. Night is approaching. Brake lights are lined up in a queue long enough to mimic an infinite miniature Milky Way set in rows. Cars move under school-zone-limit speed. Jay seems less irritated than I expect him to be. However, he has spent the last week watching his mother deteriorate, her body and spirit preparing to separate. I place one hand on his knee.

We are so near, and yet so far from home. And then we see a tow truck easing along the side of the road. An accident has caused this backup. We are sure of it. However, we don’t learn the severity of the situation until the morning newspaper arrives.

Hours before we arrived at this part of the Interstate, a multiple-vehicle crash had occurred. At least four people were injured. Even a 2,000-gallon tank truck had been flipped over. The bridge had been closed for two hours.

I had wanted to leave my brother-in-law’s house earlier. But he had been kind enough to fix breakfast for us. The preparation and clean-up had taken longer than expected. Jay had been at the house a week longer than I had. We needed to bring home more stuff—and inventory a fuller car.

Now, as I sort laundry and put our toothbrushes back where they belong I find a small surprise among the packed items: a children’s book, Dr. Seuss’s “Butter Battle Book.” It looks familiar. As I open to the first page I see my younger son Steve’s name illustrated in outlined block letters, definitely his work more than two decades ago. His younger out-of-town cousins, now grown, read the book when they were small. Now Steve’s daughter will enjoy it. Good words passed on.

Good actions can be passed on as well. Not every day will save me from closed passageways. But inside each moment the seed of a possible blessing hides. And waits for the opportunity to be discovered, and sent in unknown directions…

happy thankful Optimism Revolution

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